29 April 2014

on wagons.

First, I'd like to say that while it's raining and chilly today, the last few days here have been absolutely beautiful. I got a new phone on Saturday and my perpetual cold finally seems to have dissolved, so Strafe and I went for a few nice hikes to enjoy the beautiful weather.

This area of the country really is beautiful when we're not being frozen over by a freak polar vortex. Right now everything is green and blue. And dry, up until today's rain began. But it's spring; it rains. I'm not one to be depressed by something as straightforward as nature being nature.

I wanted to very briefly discuss how I view handling systems and how I handle my own dogs. I've been involved in dog agility for over 21 years now. I've seen trends come and trends go. But the past 5 years or so has seen an almost exponential increase in the talents of handlers and dogs, both in training and handling overall. It is such a fun time to be involved in our sport! There are now multiple full-blown "systems" on offer. Each is unique from the others and has something to offer its adherents. If you are new to agility or are a person who really enjoys following someone else's rules in order to achieve consistency, then one of these systems is a fabulous choice. I'm not going to discuss the advantages or disadvantages (as I see them) of each. That's for every individual to choose. I have an opinion, of course! As does everyone!

Currently my handling most closely matches the OneMindDogs system. This is to say that I handle lines the same way they do. I use most of the same handling maneuvers. I train with them occasionally when they are nearby (or in a warm location in the winter). I think they have a great eye for seeing lines and helping people learn to set the dog on the right one and get the heck out of the way themselves.

But I am not a "certified" OMD trainer. I am friendly with Janita and Jaakko. I would train with them again. But I still would not consider myself 100% OMD style. I train all of the  moves but some of them I keep as "back pocket" maneuvers for if I can't figure out a better way through the course. I am pretty sure I think about the dog's line just slightly differently than they do - neither of us is wrong, just different ways of seeing the same thing. I know I prefer different handling for certain situations over what they usually do. Some of my foundation training is different. Some of my wraps are handled differently. My obstacle training doesn't follow anyone's printed layout. I believe there is probably more variability between dogs than most people allow for - I try to get handlers to adapt to the dog they have (in addition to some training to improve) rather than forcing the dog to adapt to the handler.

I have followed other systems in the past, but I am really not ever a person who says "This system is for me and I will follow it 100%!!!" I enjoy experimentation and innovation. I enjoy pushing the boundaries. I enjoy studying and recording the results. I like the technicalities and the why's and the wheretofore's. I try to understand how basic principles of physics apply to agility. I constantly seek to improve my cues to eliminate any inconsistencies (and thus confusion which equals off courses or lost speed).

So if you would like to come train with me to learn more about OMD techniques, I can certainly help you. But if you really have an open mind, some questions, a notebook, and the desire to just GO FASTER(without looking frantic) then I can definitely get you on the right track! My teaching (and my own handling) is geared towards trying to help each handler learn to get their individual dog(s) on the right path, with good turns and acceleration and collection at the right times. I am pretty flexible.

No jumping on wagons of any sort here. I know what i like, I know how and why it works, and I know how to adapt it for dogs of all kinds.

photo by Watts Photography


onlyonewoof said...

We (really!) want to come train :-) Any weekend you are free. Well, provided I don't have to work.

Tammy Moody said...

i always enjoy training with you when you come to town for this exact reason. Your video game analogies always humor me too.